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People seated at the desk are (left to right): Paul Moist, CUPE Manitoba President - Marlene Tartsch, Chair of CUPE Manitoba’s Provincial Health Care Council - Lorraine Sigurdson, CUPE Health Care Coordinator - Maureen Morrison, CUPE Acting Regional Director for Manitoba

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s health care support workers have voted to go on strike if necessary to support negotiations for a new contract.

We have a strong and clear mandate from the members – they’ll go on strike if the employer refuses to offer a higher wage increase,” according to Marlene Tartsch, Chair of the Provincial Health Care Council, which represents the workers in over 80 facilities across the Province.

The vote took place yesterday, and almost 90% of the votes were cast in support of strike action.

No one wants to go on strike, but clearly this vote says the members are fed up with a situation that treats them unfairly. They want a wage increase that brings them up to par with other health workers, and they are prepared to strike to get a fair settlement,” she said this morning at a news conference.

The union membership has been firm that the employer’s last offer for 2.3% increases each year for the next three years of the contract is not enough.

We’re now going to talk to members of the Bargaining Committee to determine the timing of a strike deadline,” according to Tartsch.

Contract negotiations between the employers and the union representatives of the 10,000 health care support workers, broke down June 14th over the critical issue of wages. Negotiations started in March and the previous contract expired in April.

CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, represents health care support workers in more than 80 facilities across Manitoba, including the Regional Health Authorities covering Central Manitoba, Interlake, Parkland, Southwestman, Marquette and Brandon. In Winnipeg, facilities include the Health Sciences Centre, Grace, Seven Oaks and Concordia Hospitals, CancerCare Manitoba, Riverview Health Centre, Community Health Clinics and personal care homes.

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For information, contact:
Marlene Tartsch, 942-0343, ext. 287 / cell. (204) 794-6817
Lorraine Sigurdson, 942-0343, ext. 214 / cell. (204) 981-6499
Nancy Garrioch, (204) 725-8888 / cell. (204) 729-5790 (for Brandon)